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Educational Research for Social Change

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4070


MOFUOA, Khali  e  KHAU, Mathabo. Rethinking Constructions of Difference: Lessons from Lesotho's Chief Mohlomi's Activism against the Gendering of Witchcraft. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2022, vol.11, n.1, pp.72-87. ISSN 2221-4070.

Discrimination according to gender has been in practice in communities globally since time immemorial. This discrimination has infiltrated all spheres of life including the naming, shaming, blaming, and persecution of deviant people as witches. The phenomenon of witchcraft has historically been negatively skewed towards women, with women's gender and sexual diversity being used against them in accusations of witchcraft. In some modern-day African communities, gender and sexual diversity are still regarded as witchcraft or a result of bewitching. While activism against witchcraft has gathered momentum across Africa, it is worth noting that in Lesotho, such activism began in the precolonial era through the leadership of Chief Mohlomi. In this paper, we explore the understandings and experiences of constructions of difference as witchcraft among the Basotho of Lesotho. Using a qualitative research approach, we employed life-history narratives and focus group discussions to generate data with 10 Basotho men and women aged 70-93 years. We used sankofa theory to frame our analysis of the data, which was done thematically. Drawing on the ethnographic data, we discuss lessons regarding constructions of difference as witchcraft, and Chief Mohlomi's (1720-1815) activism against the discrimination of those labelled as witches. The findings reveal that divergent gender and sexual characteristics and identities were used in labelling certain individuals as witches and unexplainable phenomena as witchcraft. However, the findings also show that Chief Mohlomi set in motion a spirited activism against the persecution of divergent people through his teachings, which led to transformed views on gender and sexual diversity among the Basotho. These findings have implications for an education that embraces diversity in all spheres of life to promote inclusive and sustainable communities.

Palavras-chave : diversity; education; gender; inclusion; sexuality; witchcraft.

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